Vanessa Pilon is once more the spokeswoman for Papier. She has been heading this event for several years running. For the first time in Grand Quay, this 12th edition of Papier will take place here, allowing it to completely reinvent its artistic offerings. Vanessa reviews the 2019 selection (which is shaping up to be quite exceptional!) and shares her advice to make the most of your visit!
This is the first time that Papier extends its presented offerings from just paper to include paintings, sculptures, video, and exhibitions that will be offered to the public. Beyond the exposition potential created by Grand Quay’s large space, this decision to expand the art show to artists whose medium lies outside of paper is, according to Vanessa, a response to a two-fold necessity. “I think that this expansion allows for a better portrait of contemporary art here and to refresh the experience for the public, all while keeping the essence of Papier, as more than half of the works proposed are still paper,” she explains, before adding: “Year after year, gallery owners yearned to be able to show more artists and to not be limited to those that this format of art. But I believe that the public is ready for that, too.”
This is the second time that Vanessa has assumed the role of spokeswoman, and she considers herself an art lover. During its several runnings, she has noticed an evolution of the artistic productions shown – an echo of social movements and of the concerns of the current citizens. “I would say that political engagement is stronger within art practitioners and I’ve found that we see much stronger stances. There is also an accrued presence of women and indigenous peoples, lending to a much larger cultural diversity.”
And this is reflected in the artistic offerings as well as in the artists that create and the galleries that show them. This choice to create and show is, in a sense, quite coherent within the current context according to the spokeswoman. “We are in a time of changes, of questions, and I think that creating art makes sense when it is anchored to its time. What is shown here is what one feels at the time.” But the public also has a role to play, in what they want to see, in what they will go to search for when they encounter these works and artists, and to this point, Vanessa is no exception to the rule. “I have feminist works displayed in my home, works that fit with my values, and my boyfriend is very supportive of it. I truly believe that we should each go seek out artists that resonate with our personal values.”
© Jean-Michael Seminaro
“The way in which the space is organized this year is in two long corridors, allowing spectators to wind through the exhibits and get a sense of the entirety of the galleries. Anyone can research the galleries that interest them beforehand. For example, I always try to make a little top three list of the works that I absolutely need to see during my visit, but after that I just go by what moves me the most. I usually like my visit to remain intuitive, and above all, I need to remind myself that there is no obligation to see everything!” Vanessa exclaims. But still, this year, she has selected a bit more, and proposes several of her favorites taken from this 2019 running. “I picked ten works from different galleries that will be displayed in the first place on left when people come in. This gives a little peek into what I like, but there are so many works that I loved and it’s really hard to pick!” the young woman explains.
© Jean-Michael Seminaro
“For me, there is a meditative aspect to the visual arts. It allows us to take our time, to appreciate it, and to let ourselves be moved. We are so taken by our screens and our obligations, that getting close to visual art goes against that logic. I was speaking with a friend about why we like Japan and we agreed on the fact that in that country, the people take the time to contemplate works and nature. Visual art brings us there,” Vanessa emphasizes.
But the value of these works is beyond words and goes further than the pause that gives us the time to contemplate it. Art instills a certain dialogue. “I think,” Vanessa puts forth, “that for us, visual art can be a vehicle for emotions, messages, and can transcend everyday language. We can stop ourselves, and question ourselves, and for that reason, there is no need to intellectualize art.”
At the time that she gave us the interview, Vanessa glanced at her daughter. “She looks at canvas work, she has some in her living areas. She is very sensitive to it. I watch her react to colours, and it provokes something within her. And for me, it’s important to broaden that vision and expose her to art regularly, and I hope to transfer some of my curiosity to her. But I don’t expect her to like the same works as me!” she concludes with a burst of laughter. That was the end of our interview, and in closing, let’s take the time this weekend to go, young and old, to see this impeccable love song to contemporary art – full of pristine paper without wrinkles, except for maybe those of expression!